The conflict in Syria is threatening to spread beyond the country's borders. Turkey retaliated to the shelling of a frontier town by firing at targets inside Syria. Turkey is a member of NATO and the alliance is willing to defend the country if necessary. But most NATO members want to avoid intervening in Syria. They fear it would escalate the conflict which might then spiral out of control.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned of "serious consequences" for the entire region if the conflict in Syria draws in neighboring countries. The UN Security Council has condemned the shelling of the Turkish border town of Akcakale while the parliament in Ankara has passed a motion approving military action against Syria.
Most Turks are against going to war with Syria. Relations between Ankara and Damascus have broken down and it appears the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lost patience with its Syrian counterpart. Nevertheless, there is little appetite in Turkey for full blown military intervention. If Turkey invoked Article 5 of NATO's charter, that would trigger the involvement of the other members of the alliance. NATO members would then have to provide military support to Turkey. Can an escalation of the conflict be avoided or is outside military intervention in Syria becoming more likely?
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Kristin Helberg – she studied political science and Journalism in Hamburg and Barcelona. First she was a freelance correspondent in Syria from 2001 to 2009. She worked for various radio stations such as ARD, DRS and ORF, as well as for German newspapers such as die Tageszeitung. In 2009 she returned to Germany and lives in Berlin where she works as a freelance journalist. Her main emphasis still focuses on the Middle East and she travels and reports from there regularly.
Ralph Ghadban – the German Islamic scholar and author was born in Lebanon. In 1972, after completing his studies in philosophy he moved to Berlin, where he then read Islamic studies and political science. He is presently working as an assistant professor at Berlin’s Protestant Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences). He has published various articles on the subject of Islam and the Islamization of Europe.
Stefan Buchen – is a journalist. He studied Arabic and French in Germersheim, before going on to post-graduate study of Arabic language and literature. He worked in 1995 as a correspondent for "AFP" in Jerusalem and as a freelance producer in the Middle East. In 2000, Buchen began an internship at the German radio station "Norddeutschen Rundfunk". He later worked on the Panorama programme and was a freelance reporter for "Arte". Buchen has reported from many countries around the world, including Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories.